Current Psychology

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 100–109 | Cite as

Exploring the Dark Side of Personality: Emotional Awareness, Empathy, and the Dark Triad Traits in an Italian Sample

  • Adriano SchimmentiEmail author
  • Peter K. Jonason
  • Alessia Passanisi
  • Luana La Marca
  • Nunzia Di Dio
  • Alessia M. Gervasi


The Dark Triad represents a collection of three socially aversive traits, namely Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism. In this study, we examined the psychometric properties of the Italian translation of the Dark Triad Dirty Dozen (DTDD) in a sample of 799 adults, and we explored the associations among Dark Triad traits, theory of mind, empathy, and alexithymia. The DTDD showed a good internal consistency and a bifactor structure including a three-factor non-hierarchical model and a global, second-order factor with all of the DTDD items loading on it. The DTDD traits were positively associated with alexithymia and negatively associated with theory of mind and empathy. Also, results of regression analyses showed that difficulty identifying feelings and a reduced emotional reactivity were significant predictors of the Dark Triad traits. Our findings support the validity and reliability of the Italian translation of the DTDD, and suggest that individuals with high levels of Dark Triad traits may have difficulties in understanding and processing their own rather than other people’s emotional states.


Dark triad Empathy Alexithymia Theory of mind Dark triad dirty dozen 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Human and Social SciencesUKE – Kore University of EnnaEnnaItaly
  2. 2.School of Social Sciences and PsychologyPenrithAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Social SciencesUniversity of VeronaVeronaItaly

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